Last Updated: Mar 31st, 2014 - 14:20:42


Shooting into the air can have grim consequences
By BLAKE BELDEN
Dec 31, 2013, 20:39

As it approaches midnight on New Year's Eve and friends and families join together to celebrate another year with new beginnings, police are urging the community to understand the fatal threat of celebratory gunfire and to report any person who shoots a gun into the air.

Captain Kevin Smith, with the Chesterfield Police Uniform Operations Bureau, said that, with the help of Capt. David Hensley and the rest of the Chesterfield police force, he had already stressed the dangers of celebratory gunfire, but now it has become even more prevalent following the death of Brendon Mackey earlier this year.

On July 4, around 9 p.m., 7-year-old boy Brendon Mackey was on his way to a fireworks show at the Swift Creek Reservoir in Midlothian when he was struck in the head by a wayward bullet and died in a Richmond hospital later that evening.
Authorities believe the bullet was the result of celebratory gunfire.

"It's hit home. We know now. Somebody killed a 7-year-old boy and if that doesn't send the message, I don't know what will," Smith said.

In the wake of this tragedy, the Chesterfield Police Department is putting more emphasis on the consequences of firing guns blindly into the air.

The patrol volume is already heavier for New Year's Eve, but officers will be utilizing enhanced methods to deter celebratory gunfire this holiday, said Smith who will also be on patrol on Tuesday night.

"We added even more officers this year because we believe that we're going to get more calls this year because people aren't going to take it so lightly. People aren't going to just blow it off as 'Hey, that's just somebody shooting a gun down the street'," Smith said.

Smith also said that measures will be taken to excessively prosecute anybody who is caught firing their guns as a form of celebration.

"We're going to ask for jail time from the courts. If the person is an adult, we're going to put their name out in public because anyone who does it ought to be ashamed of themselves," Smith said.

Hensley shared this sentiment during a media briefing earlier this month.

"This case should make it clear to people that that's just not the thing to do to randomly fire a gun in the air celebrating a holiday or any day. I'm hoping that at least people...realize that that's not acceptable," Hensley said.

The investigation concerning Mackey's death is still ongoing, and Hensley said that the police department is having difficulties finding the person responsible for the death of the boy.

"We're at a point now where we've pretty much exhausted all of our leads. We need the public's assistance again in trying to get information about who fired this firearm," Hensley said.

Following the incident, the police department recovered a 165 grain, .40-caliber bullet which state tests indicated it was believed to have been fired from a Glock, H&K, IMI, Kahr Arms or Vector Arms style firearm, Hensley said.

The police department did a canvas of approximately 1,800 homes in the surrounding area of where Mackey was hit by the bullet to find any evidence that could link a shooter to the bullet, which resulted in the testing of seven handguns, none of which came up as a match, Hensley said.

As they strive to find answers and provide some closure or resolution for Mackey's family members, Hensley said he is surprised that the police department hasn't received more calls with information on people firing weapons into the air on that night.

"The main focus is somebody knows. This person that fired this weapon didn't sneak off into a secluded place on July 4th to fire the weapon...It's a specific time. We're talking about a few minutes right at 9 p.m. that somebody was firing a gun. Then we've narrowed it down to the different types of gun...Somebody knows," Hensley said.

Hensley said the police department has not ruled out the possibility that the person who fired the gun was visiting the area for the holiday.

As of December 18, there was almost $10,000 in award money for any person who has information that leads to an arrest and conviction of someone responsible for the crime, Hensley said.

Any one who is interested in becoming a donor to the investigation reward fund can go to any area BB&T bank and say they want to donate to the Brendon Mackey account, according to Elizabeth Caroon, spokeswoman for the Chesterfield police.

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